HC Deb 13 March 1980 vol 980 cc652-3W
Mr. Charles Irving

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether there are any plans to establish direct broadcasting by satellite in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Whitelaw

Direct broadcasting by satellite, which could offer the United Kingdom up to five additional television channels, could mark a major development in our broadcasting arrangements and raises many complex issues. The United Kingdom has no plans for direct broadcasting by satellite at present, but I believe that it is important to keep the possibilities offered by technical developments in broadcasting under review.

I have therefore decided to initiate a study of the implication of establishing a United Kingdom direct broadcasting satellite service by about 1985, which would be the earliest practicable date, or by about 1990. The study will cover the technical, financial and resource implications of such a service, the implications for our broadcasting system and services taking account of the Government's proposals in its Broadcasting Bill, the possible industrial benefits, and likely developments in Europe.

The study will be carried out by my Department in close consultation with other interested Government Departments, the broadcasting authorities and such other organisations as might have a direct interest. My officials will write to those primarily concerned shortly. Any other organisation wishing to present its views on these issues is invited to send them in writing to the Home Office, Broadcasting Department, Room 668, 50 Queen Anne's Gate, London, SW1H 9AT, not later than 30 June 1980.

I hope to publish a paper setting out the results of the study around the end of the year. The aim of the paper will be to provide a factual summary of the various options and their implications on which decisions about a United Kingdom satellite service can be based.